Dr Sarita Panday
Department of Politics
Global Challenges Research Fellow, Dr Sarita Panday, will focus on improving maternal health service provision in Nepal, bridging the gap between women service users, their local healthcare providers and policy-makers.
About Dr Sarita Panday's research:
"This fellowship is an extension of my postdoctoral and doctoral research. In my PhD, I found that marginalised women often underuse healthcare services even when they are specifically encouraged and the services are free. When I asked those women why they were not using the services, many hesitated to participate in interviews, let alone engage with the issues. My subsequent postdoctoral fellowship introduced me to using Participatory Video (PV) methods, and I found this approach to be a more productive way of engaging with rural communities on complex problems. I really liked the way the participatory process allowed me to interact with local people so that they could talk openly, which would not have been possible in one-off interviews.
"Therefore, in this fellowship, I will be using similar participatory approaches, such as PV, storytelling, interviews and focus group discussions. Working in the two hill districts of Nepal, Dhading and Sindhupalchok, I will try to understand why women from marginalised communities such as Dalits, indigenous and ethnic minorities, feel reluctant to use maternal and child healthcare services. I will be asking questions about women’s experience of the health systems when they do seek care, and also interview local health workers to understand the relationship between their practices and service uses by women. I will then share these findings with concerned policy-makers through workshops at local municipal, provincial and central level. In doing so, I hope to bridge the gap between women service users, their local healthcare providers and policy-makers.
"At the end of the project, I expect to contribute to a greater awareness and understanding of socio-cultural, economic and political factors influencing the use of maternal and child healthcare services within marginalised communities in rural Nepal.
"I am extremely honoured and grateful to be awarded with this prestigious fellowship and am very much looking forward to implementing my first independent research project in Nepal. Being a woman from Nepal, I feel lucky to have an opportunity to work in my home country focusing on the issue that I am passionate about: improving maternal and child health in rural areas. While my familiarity with local culture and traditions are likely to support me to engage with women, my connections with Nepali policy-makers and politicians are likely to increase the chances that they listen to the concerns of marginalised women. As these are the women who have been denied opportunities and resources for centuries, my research, at the very least, will present women with opportunities to speak on issues that affect them, in a way that is convenient for them (through participatory approaches).
"I will be working with excellent mentors, Dr Simon Rushton (Department of Politics) and Dr Amy Barnes (School of Health and Related Research), to establish a strong partnership with Kathmandu University. Together with them, I plan to apply for future projects with focus on empowering women in rural Nepal."